A Creationist Debate.

I posted this in-line response to a creationist and since I spent a fair amount of time on it and it contains interesting science information I’m posting it.

“First we might want to consider who is in the Paradigm bubble. Your position is certainly one that has over the last century enjoyed a lot of attention, however if you really look into the matter, these theories have fallen from their previous popularity”

Based on what?  Show me some kind of poll or evidence that any significant number of experts rejects ideas like evolution or an old earth.  The reality is that about 5% of experts across all fields (including those that have nothing to do with science) are creationists, and about a tenth of one percent of earth and life scientists say that “creation science” has any merit.  Creationist websites paint a picture of a ground-swell of support in the scientific community but they promote this image through deceptive tactics like having their articles be written by “so n’ so, PhD” when the author almost invariably has a PhD, but in a field not related to the one he is talking about.  This is misleading, it’s like someone with a PhD in philosophy wearing a white coat and walking around hospitals calling himself doctor so n’ so.

“and now thousands of PhD’s. are convinced that the Recent Creation and a Global Flood as shown in the Bible is a better fit to the evidence.”

The only list I am aware of has less than a thousand names, and many of them are from fields unrelated to natural science.  If you have information I don’t (other than this claim being widely circulated) I would be curious to see it.

“One of the problems has been science trying to make projections about global things while viewing only a very small and narrow local bit of Data. When one stands back for example from space, the localized observation no longer fits. An example might be the formation of the Grand Canyon, which by the previous claims of Geology took eons of time to form through the erosion of the river that runs through it. Now from space we see that to be error for several reasons:  Larger rivers with larger flows have not formed canyons like the Grand Canyon.”

The water level at the grand canyon is barely a trickle, the grand canyon didn’t form because it’s a big river, it formed because many different rivers have flowed through that canyon in different directions with different sources during different geological periods.  Rivers are not always active, this is why there are tons of dry river beds throughout the world.  The grand canyon is just a river canyon that has seen more traffic than most over it’s lifespan.  This is well understood, and obvious since the canyon doesn’t come close to spanning the colorado river’s entire length.  Which by the way begs the question that if the grand canyon was the result of a global event, why isn’t the world covered with grand canyons?  Why aren’t they spread out in a more or less uniform pattern?

“Ancient lake beds larger than all the great lakes were formerly full of water at the top of the Grand Canyon and was the source of the huge wave of water that came through there. The river that is there now is simply following the path of least resistance.”

A few things – one yes there was once a large inland sea in the middle of the country, that’s where the great planes came from, the even sedimentation from decaying organic matter and wind swept debris over long periods created a vast, unusually flat and fertile terrain to which we owe much of our wealth as a nation from an agricultural standpoint.  However all of this water did not suddenly jump hundreds of miles over to the grand canyon region, wash away one area of it, then jump to the ocean, that is physically impossible.  If all that water had flowed from central america to the ocean via one area it would’ve made a more or less consistent dent in the landscape and it would’ve, as you say, followed the path of least resistance, which is the topsoil.  Lets perform a thought experiment.  Take a car, cover it with mud.  Then try to cut the car in half with water.  The mud in this analogy is the soft topsoil that surrounds the grand canyon for thousands of miles.  The metal and glass of the car is the mile of solid rock that is underneath the surface that you say this water rapidly cut through while leaving the top soil alone.  So which will cut the car in half while not removing the mud – dumping huge quantities of water on it over a short period, or trickling relatively small quantities in a given path over a relatively long period?

“The size of the boulders that have been washed down stream weigh hundreds of tons and would require a catastrophic flood event.”

I don’t know what you’re talking about so there’s no way to evaluate your claim, but boulders can be moved by migrating glaciers (which we know by direct experience, since we can watch glaciers migrate today in cold places and measure their effects on terrain) and they can also fall into river canyons.

“The walls of the canyons are not shaped as they should be if the erosion was a slow process over many Millions of years.”

This claim is also not specific enough to be evaluated.

“The strata do not have enough time between them indicating they were layers laid down very quickly perhaps over weeks or months.”

Enough time between them?  I am not sure what you are trying to say.

“The amount of material that was displaced is magnitudes more than previously known. In fact it is measured in thousands of cubic miles of material and spread over a huge portion of the United States.”

I assume you mean material supposedly displaced by a global flood.  Material is displaced by a number of things, from wind and erosion to, as I said, migrating glaciers, volcanic activity and so on.  I am willing to entertain the idea of a global flood or a local flood or no flood at all but the reason creationists aren’t taken seriously is that they don’t do science.  If you approached the question as a scientist you wouldn’t be gathering evidence that your theory was right, you’d be asking what has to be true and what mustn’t be true if your theory is right and looking for a way to test that.  Scientific theories are considered credible the more different ways there are to bust them (assuming they stand up to the tests).  This is also why successful theories can be used to predict things before they are discovered.  Creationists to my knowledge always come along after something is discovered and try to spin it as favoring their worldview, which is not how science works.

“There are many places where the strata is interrupted by vertical fossils of trees that pass through the layers showing that the layers were the result of liquefaction and catastrophic flooding as in the Biblical flood.”

You are referring to so-called “polystrate” fossils, what creationist websites and articles don’t tell you about them is that they’re only found in two places – river deltas and volcanic ash layers.  In other words they’re only found in the few places where rapid sedimentation occurs.  Most pictures of “polystrate” fossils in volcanic ash are in black and white, apparently to hide from the audience the fact that they’re not looking at regular rock strata, but rather a log buried in gray ash or ashen soil.

“Another situation that has caused error is that the methods used to date the strata by evolutionists makes an assumption that the rate of change has been the same over all this expanse of time and therefore took millions of years to form. It does not allow for catastrophic change and fantastic rates of movement.”

If the rate of decay had changed significantly in the past this would be evident in rocks from different strata, and it would also be evident in the radiation given off by stars from different distances away.  It’s not an assumption, we can test the hypothesis.  And it failed our tests  decades ago.  As I said, a real scientist asks him or herself what must be true or cannot be true if my theory is correct, then finds a way to test it.

“Some more things to consider; If the Earth and the Moon were 4.6 Billion years old then the dust layers on both would be thousands of feet deep however this is not the case. The dust layer on the moon is measured in inches to feet even there where no atmosphere is present to move it around.”

The dust on earth is biological material, shed skin cells, waste from bacteria breaking things down, fibers from hair and plant material etc, it builds up because there is life on earth.  The “dust” on the moon is not dust, it is microscopic ball bearings of volcanic glass formed by micro-meteor impacts which hit the moon (which has no atmosphere to slow them down) fast enough to liquify on impact, then bounce into the air, freeze, and fall back to the surface.  For obvious logical reasons these would not build up feet or miles deep because the “dust” itself would shield the rocks these formations are made from.

“The sodium level in the Oceans waters is too low for 4.6 billion years.”

I don’t know what the logic of this statement is but there is a common creationist argument-generating formula that goes like this – take any rate anything is happening today, assume it has been constant for billions of years, and then conclude that because this leads to some impossibility that the earth therefore cannot be billions of years old.  The problem with this logic is that it often leads to an impossibility not because the earth is young, but because the rate is simply not constant.  It is like saying that because it rained 5 inches today and we are not under a billion inches of water, the earth must be 1 week old.  It assumes that the current rate of precipitation is constant (it’s not) and it ignores other phenomenon like that the same water falls, evaporates and falls again, so logically there should be no build up at all (at least within our simple example).  The math of the ocean’s salt level probably ignores that the salt dumping into the ocean now is coming from land masses that were at one time at the bottom of the ocean and is being deposited into sedimentary layers that will probably at some future time be dry land.

“The regression of the moon shows that if the Earth was even a million years old, the Moon would be in positive contact with the Earth grinding both into sand.”

Setting aside that if the moon touched the earth given the energies involved both would liquify on impact not grind anything to sand – do the math, these creationist websites just expect you not to run the numbers.  The moon is receding from the earth at 38 millimeters per year, so in a million years that’s 38 million millimeters.  There are 1,609,344 millimeters in a mile, so divided 38 million by 1,609,344 and in a million years the moon would be 23.6 miles closer – it’s about a quarter of a million miles away so that’s a change of about 0.00944%.  A billion years the moon would be about 23,000 miles closer, and 4 billion years ago it would be about 150,000 miles from the earth.  Assuming the rate is constant, which it almost certainly isn’t.  I can explain why if you want.

“Radiometric measuring is not accurate at all. for example samples were sent to several labs for testing the the age of the rock was determined to be 1 -2 million years old, however the actual sample was volcanic rock formed in 1957. The age assignment constants are based in large upon certain assumption that can not be made. There is no way to actually test by a known value.”

I don’t know the specifics of your claim so again it’s hard to evaluate it, but creationists are notorious for using a screwdriver to try to hammer in a nail in order to prove that hammers don’t work.  In other words deliberately mis-using dating methods or using them on materials they were not designed for and trumpeting the bad results as proof that the dating method in question doesn’t work.  I don’t know if that is what is happening in this example but I wouldn’t be surprised.

“The formation of Plateaus and the disappearance of mountains can not be explained by erosion”

Plateus are, according to conventional geology, formed by a number of different things, not just erosion.

“but indicates again a catastrophic event of sinking lands and the thrusting up of adjacent plates by deep hydraulics.”

Massive floods have happened, as have major changes in the topography of the earth, entire continents etc – but to my knowledge there is no evidence that any one catastrophic flood happened everywhere at once, and much evidence that this is not the case, especially not in the past few thousand years.  If it had there would be no living descendants of native americans, mesopotamians, ancient egyptians, east asian cultures etc because these civilizations date back a very long way.

“There is a vast amount of data that is being re-evaluated by scientist all over the world in light of the new information and it points to the truth of the Biblical account.”

Information is always being re-evaluated.  There is no sudden upheaval of modern geology, physics and biology except in the minds of creationists.  The creationism movement is purely a political and PR movement, there is no analogous movement taking place in academia.  Again I could be wrong, if you have evidence that there is one I’d like to see it.

“If the Cosmos came from a big bang, where did the material come from,”

I have no idea.  For all I know a god created it.  But I have no way to test that hypothesis, so it is not science.

“why didn’t it implode rather than explode,”

I have no idea, why is the universe expanding faster today than it was yesterday?  These are the mysteries on the cutting edge of science.

“and where is all the Antimatter and why didn’t it all self annihilate in the beginning?”

The second question negates the first question, lol.  It did self-annihilate, whichever there was more of (matter or antimatter) is what makes up the universe.  If there had been more antimatter we would call that matter and call matter antimatter, because they are essentially identical except in how they interact with each other.  If the universe was made out of antimatter in other words it would behave the same way.

About agnophilo

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20 Responses to A Creationist Debate.

  1. Adam Benton says:

    I’ve heard the idea that there wasn’t enough time between layers before as well. It’s normally phrased along the lines of “we don’t see any erosion between rock layers, which we should if they were exposed to the elements for a long time”. I have no idea what they’re talking about.

    Also, does your blog support quotes? If so it would be good if you put the quotes from the creationist in quotes; helping differentiate your work from theirs.

    • agnophilo says:

      I assume you mean quote blocks, as their statements are in quotation marks. And I don’t know (new to wordpress). As for erosion there are places in the geological column where entire mountains have grown out of the earth, eroded away, and new layers formed on top of the buried mountain side. One example is in the geology of the grand canyon:

      Where it says “greatest angular uncomformity” is where flat layers were pushed up into a mountain, the top eroded away, and flat layers were deposited on top of them.

      Creationist websites are “often inaccurate” to put it politely.

      • Adam Benton says:

        Yeah, when writing a post look for a button labelled with quote marks. Highlight the bit you want emboxed and give it a click.

        I’m not sure if that matches what the creationists are demanding, mostly because their demands are so vague and ill-defined I have no idea what they’re really saying. I’ll give it a go next time I encounter that argument, see if it’s what they’re looking for.

      • Anonymous says:

        I find it very difficult to believe that a true scientist can believe any of the claims of a young earth creationist. Ironically, it was going to a Christian school and learning about how the earth was only 6000 years old and evolution was a twisted, deadly theory that lead me to abandon this view and embrace what true science was. Great post, really enjoyed reading it!

        • agnophilo says:

          Glad you enjoyed it, there are tons more of these arguing with creationist type posts in my archives with lots of science info if you’re ever bored. Ironically any “true” scientist would shy away from terms like “true” scientist, lol. Only a sith deals in absolutes!

          : P

      • crawfordgarrett says:

        I find it very difficult to believe that a true scientist can believe any of the claims of a young earth creationist. Ironically, it was going to a Christian school and learning about how the earth was only 6000 years old and evolution was a twisted, deadly theory that lead me to abandon this view and embrace what true science was. Great post, really enjoyed reading it!

  2. herose4grace says:

    I don’t understand why it is even a debate. The Earth is billions of years old. Why are we even talking about it anymore?

    • agnophilo says:

      Because of the nature of rationalizations. A rationalization is when you believe something for an illogical reason like indoctrination, fear, peer pressure, trauma, delusion, whatever and then try to convince yourself it’s true afterwards, often by ignoring evidence that conflicts with the belief and having very low standards of evidence that supposedly supports it. This is why claims that have been debunked or were known to be false when they were made almost never go away in the creationism movement. It is also why religions tend to accept scientific discoveries initially perceived to conflict with their worldview 1-2 centuries after they’re proven empirically to be correct. With evolution it’s about 150 years, with heliocentrism it was about 200.

  3. blogmefast says:

    Imagine the world covered with grand canyons only, and nothing else..the Grand Canyon would no longer exist since all the canyons would have replace it and would be little canyons…

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